ACT Policing Statement – Australian Christian Lobby Incident

UPDATE

On Wednesday 21 December 2016, ACT Policing responded to an incident involving an explosion in a motor vehicle that was parked adjacent to Eternity House, Campion Street, Deakin. A tenant of Eternity House is the Australian Christian Lobby. 

On Thursday 22 December 2016, ACT Policing issued a statement confirming an investigation had commenced into the incident. 

Based on information known by police at the time, which included a brief record of interview with the alleged offender (Mr Duong) where he stated to police his intention was to commit suicide by blowing himself up, police stated the actions of the individual were not politically, religiously or ideologically motivated.

To provide reassurance to the ACT community, media speculation regarding the offender’s motivation was addressed in this statement.

It is important for police to advise the public when an investigation into a terrorism incident has commenced.  It is just as important to advise the community where an incident is not believed to be terrorism related.

The AFP Commissioner in his evidence to the Senate Estimates on 28 February 2017 stated that ACT Policing believed mental illness played a considerable factor here and Mr Duong’s primary motivation was suicide.

This is still ACT Policing’s position.

The ACT Director of Public Prosecutions has reviewed the evidence and on this basis is proceeding with the offences of arson and property damage, contrary to sections 404 and 403 respectively of the ACT Criminal Code 2002.

On 16 August 2017, Mr Duong was committed to stand trial in the ACT Supreme Court.  Mr Duong has pleaded not guilty to these charges on the basis of mental impairment.

ACT Policing is aware of media reporting in relation to Mr Duong’s motivation and actions in the lead up to the event. 

ACT Policing will be alleging:

  • Mr Duong’s intention was to commit suicide;
  • Mr Duong had planned a ‘mountain top bonfire type thing’ but could not find a suitable location as there were too many people;
  • Mr Duong’s decision to drive to Australian Christian Lobby was spontaneous due to no other suitable locations;
  • Mr Duong researched methods by which he could carry out the act on 21 December, including internet searches of terms including ‘how to make ammonium nitrate’, ‘pressure cooker bomb’, ‘c4’, ‘how to buy a gun in Australia’, ‘gas leak explosion’ and ‘how much gas leak to cause explosion’;
  • Mr Duong had undertaken internet searches associated with LGBTQ, same sex marriage, religious and spiritual ideologies and on one occasion the Australian Christian Lobby; and
  • Police are aware of Mr Duong’s dislike for the Australian Christian Lobby as “religions are failed”. 

As this matter is currently before the court, ACT Policing will be making no further comment.